Monday, October 22, 2007

Absolute Shame

Doctor: Don't worry scrote. There are plenty of 'tards out there living really kick ass lives. My first wife was 'tarded. She's a pilot now.


I have been trying to read everything I can on the debacle that is the Absolute Poker situation, and I have drawn a few conclusions of my own from what has happened. I'm sure nothing I say here has not already been said before, but I'll say them again anyway.

Firstly, how dumb do you have to be to get caught? I think that the way the cheaters were abusing the system shows they were not real poker players – or at least, were blinded extremely by their greed. Like everyone else I imagine who has heard about the scandal, I imagined what I would do if I had the "superuser" account. How could I keep getting the profits without getting caught? Let's say I stumbled across such an account by whatever means, would I use it? No – I wouldn't. Poker is fun, and this would remove any enjoyment from it, and no matter how much I tried I know eventually the game would be up and I would get caught, and then your name is mud forever – and who knows what other sanctions afterwards. Hypothetically, would I do it if it was guaranteed 100% that I would never get caught? Well, obviously you can never have that guarantee but hypothetically speaking, it would be a real test to say no. But that is only a hypothetical situation, and my love of not getting my ass pounded in prison would preclude me from using it.

Another conclusion drawn from the ongoing saga is – if this superuser was out there and was dumb enough to get caught, how many other's are not as dumb? Before this happened, I was 100% certain that online poker was not rigged. Now I can not be 100% certain, though I am 99% sure my 50c/$1 games are safe from being compromised. While I am still fairly certain that the majority of poker sites I frequent are safe, now it has been proven that compromise can occur. And it's not like Absolute Poker was some small room that few people knew about – it would probably be one of the top ten poker rooms in the world, at least for name recognition. Now we will also have to put up with every donkey that looses a pot complaining that they were cheated.

I have an account at Absolute Poker, though it hasn't been used in quite some time and I only opened it because of Poker Source Online. So I am not really a major revenue stream for the room, I'm just another bonus whore there for my raked hands and then left – but what are the chances I would return there now? I can't think of a reason why I would – but like I said, I'm not really a regular there anyway.

Some of the talk has been about how AP management are in a loose/loose situation, and how they are trying to limit the damages done to keep their company alive. I don't know if it is worth keeping alive right now, a black mark on your name like this will be hard to forget. Even if they came out and gave 100% disclosure on everything that happened, personally thanked the poker community members who discovered the cheating and then refunded every single dollar lost by their players with interest – would it remove the tarnish they now have? In my mind, that would be the only way they could get close to it, and I'm not even sure that would work.

I am also convinced that this is bad news for online poker everywhere, without a doubt. This is worse than anything else I can think of that has happened to the online poker industry, including Russ Boyd's disappearing poker room and the Port Authority Act.

It is hard to come up with positives from all of this, but the major upside is the poker community. It goes to show that on the popular forums such as 2+2 and Pocket Fives (amongst others) and amongst the blogging ranks, there are some pretty smart cookies, and dedicated. Sure, there was a lot of money involved in this instance, but there is a lot more at stake – thousand's times more. A community though has pulled together to make sure something like this will not be swept under the carpet. It is people power with intelligence behind it, and that is a testament to the people involved and supporting the actions. I'm glad to see some of the people involved in this getting the recognition they deserve, and perhaps if it emerges that there was a whistle blower within the AP ranks helping in secret, they too will get our thanks. The pessimist in my though thinks that they probably got left out of the action and then turned whistleblower, but we'll see what happens when everything is said and done.

Will this stop me from playing online poker at any site? Hell no. I still believe in the integrity of the two sites I frequent the most – being Full Tilt and PokerStars. Just now, there is that 1% of "it could", where before there was not.

As for my own poker play, I had some good sessions both online and in live games. My first hand in a 200 hand session (bigger than normal for me) was a straight flush, my first in a long time. I didn't get much action, but I did get a small value bet on the river called. In the same session, I also twice flopped quads without holding a pocket pair. Pretty hard to get action on those hands, though I did get an all-in the second time from a short stack. Even with those miracle hands, I still managed to finish only a little in front, just under a buy in. The three main losses in big pots was flopping the nut straight and then loosing to a rivered better straight (I slow played it, so that is the risk), and that was a significantly sized pot. The second was hitting an ace on the flop and then loosing out to QT with a queen on the turn and ten on the river forming two pair – he raised pre and post flop and I was just a calling station. Maybe a raise on the flop could have changed this pot, but to be honest I think I made more money from this player by encouraging this play anyway. The above two hands I think were 50% bad play and 50% bad luck, but the last was 99% bad play. On a flop of Q99 I had an under pair, 7's or 8's I think. One player bet out on the with medium strength, and I thought my position in the blinds could mean I have a 9, and I tried to represent it. I just called on the flop, and then when he bet $8 on the turn, I raised it to $20. He came back over the top without much thought, and I decided he either did have the 9 or he's earned this pot.

But for the most part, I played really well. I used my table image well and got some nice pots when I missed my hands and got a few value bets in too when the need came. I jumped out early from the starting stack of $50 to $75, then back down to as low as $17 before ending the session around the $90 mark, which I was more than happy with. I had some players on a string, which was a nice change for me.

As for the live game, after being up most of the night I ended $5 down, but I was very happy with the way I played. I made some really good reads and earned some good pots, and really disguised a monster hand early that got me some chips. For the most of the night though my profits were eaten up by missed draws (some good draws, some I shouldn't have been involved in) and a few times where I couldn't get action on my big hands. But I had a good night and the results didn't show how well I played. I was happy with the poker.

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